- California Healthline Original Stories 4
- ‘America’s Other Drug Problem’: Copious Prescriptions For Hospitalized Elderly
- After 16 Years Of Debate, Legislation On Surprise Medical Bills Pushes Forward
- Patients, Fearing Pricey Follow-Ups, May Shy Away From Some Colon Cancer Tests
- A Depression Diagnosis Doesn’t Mean You’ll Get Treatment, Study Finds
- Health Care Personnel 2
- With 'Operation Money Bags,' Investigators Tie Illegal Prescriptions To Gang Activity
- New Generation Of Doctors Learning To Emphasize Nutrition Over Prescriptions
- Public Health and Education 1
- Calif. Lawmakers: Immediate Investigation Into Purdue Pharma's Opioid Practices Necessary
- Around California 2
- Scripps Finalizes Alliance With Prominent Cancer Network
- Patients' Data Stolen After Medical Center Employee's Car Broken Into
Latest From California Healthline:
Older people are often given a huge number of medications, and many of them are unnecessary or even harmful. (Anna Gorman, 8/30)
The California measure would protect consumers and provide better reimbursement for care, supporters say. (Ana B. Ibarra, 8/30)
Most screening tests for colon cancer are covered by insurance but if they come back positive, they may require a diagnostic colonoscopy and that may not be covered completely by insurance. (Michelle Andrews, 8/30)
A study in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that patients known as the “worried well” are actually the highest utilizer of mental health care — and most likely to receive antidepressants. (Zhai Yun Tan, 8/29)
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Summaries Of The News:
The battle in California could influence bills pending in states across the country, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Hawaii and Missouri.
After 16 Years Of Debate, Legislation On Surprise Medical Bills Pushes Forward
A measure to protect California consumers from surprise medical bills — among the longest-debated issues to be considered by state lawmakers — moved closer than it’s ever been to becoming law when the Senate approved it Monday with a 35-1 vote. The bill would relieve patients from having to pay surprise medical bills out of pocket by requiring insurers to reimburse out-of-network doctors and other health providers a “fair amount” and doctors to accept the payments, said its author, Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). That rate would be 125 percent of the amount Medicare pays for the same service or the insurer’s average contracted rate for the service, whichever is greater. (Ibarra, 8/30)
California Legislature Debates Surprise Medical Bills
For the second time in as many years, California legislators are debating a bill that would protect patients from paying surprise medical bills when they inadvertently get treatment from doctors who are not covered by their insurance. Under the bill, AB 72, consumers would only pay the equivalent of in-network rates if, for example, during surgery covered by insurance, they are treated by an out-of-network anesthesiologist, or have X-rays read by an out-of-network radiologist. AB 72 is in the California Senate and must be approved before going to the state assembly and governor. The state legislature has until Aug. 31 to act, or the bill effectively dies in committee. (Ross, 8/29)
Police say Drs. Sonny Oparah and Edward Ridgill wrote prescriptions to gang members who then resold the drugs on the street. Two criminal complaints charge the physicians with illegally prescribing the painkillers hydrocodone and codeine in exchange for cash.
Los Angeles Daily News:
Doctors Allegedly Sold Prescriptions To Gang Members Profiting For Cash From Burglaries
Two doctors have been charged with selling prescriptions for powerful drugs to gang members who allegedly bought them with profits from thousands of residential burglaries committed in the South Bay and across Southern California, prosecutors said Monday. Drs. Sonny Oparah, 75, of Long Beach and Edward Ridgill, 64, of Ventura surrendered Friday to federal authorities hours after Torrance police led some 400 police officers on raids in South Los Angeles that resulted in the arrests of 13 gang members allegedly involved in the burglary scheme. The physicians face charges that could send them to prison for the rest of their lives. (Altman, 8/29)
Experts say a change in diet can be revolutionary to a patient's health — without all the side effects that come with drugs.
Recipes, Not Prescriptions: A Grass-Roots Movement To Prevent Disease And Treat Illness With Food
Medical schools are placing more emphasis on nutrition education. More doctors are urging patients to revamp their eating habits. And numerous resources such as forksoverknives.com and nutritionfacts.org online have emerged in recent years to lay out the facts about the dire health risks of a poor diet and offer ample recipes to make this food-based cure seem palatable, if not delicious. (Robertson, 8/29)
“There appears to be a pervasive disregard for patient safety and public health by some within the pharmaceutical industry," Rep. Mark DeSaulnier and Rep. Ted Lieu said in calling for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to take action against the drugmaker.
Los Angeles Times:
California Representatives Call For Congressional Investigation Into Purdue Pharma And Other Opioid Makers
Two California representatives called Monday for a congressional investigation of opioid manufacturers, citing a Los Angeles Times investigation that found that the maker of OxyContin collected extensive evidence of criminal trafficking of its drug but in many cases did not alert law enforcement. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), both members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a letter to the committee chairs that an immediate investigation was necessary “to fully understand the implications and consequences of pharmaceutical companies that do not fulfill their legal and ethical requirements to restrict the sale of opioids in circumstances that raise suspicion regarding inappropriate prescribing practices.” (Ryan, 8/29)
The app lets tuberculosis patients film video of themselves taking their medication, which is sent to a doctor or nurse to review. Medical providers also can keep tabs on symptoms and how patients are feeling on a daily basis.
The Baltimore Sun:
Emocha Mobile Health Lands New Contracts For Its Medication Monitoring App
A Baltimore startup with a mobile application to keep tuberculosis patients on track with their medication regimen is expanding with new contracts in California and big ideas for how the technology can improve oversight of medications for other illnesses. Emocha Mobile Health, founded in 2013 on technology licensed from the Johns Hopkins University, has recently landed contracts with Fresno, Merced and Contra Costa counties in California. Those communities have some of the country's highest concentrations of latent tuberculosis, a form of the lung bacteria that does not have symptoms and puts patients with weakened immune systems at greater risk for developing the potentially deadly disease. (Gantz, 8/29)
“Our goal is to build our program up so it is as good as any other cancer program in the country,” says Chris Van Gorder, Scripps’ chief executive.
San Diego Union-Times:
San Diego's Scripps Health Partners With MD Anderson To Expand Cancer Network's Reach
In a bid to increase its reach throughout Southern California, the San Diego-based Scripps Health system on Monday finalized a partnership with the internationally known MD Anderson Cancer Network. The deal makes Scripps the only direct collaborator with Houston-based MD Anderson in an eight-county region stretching from the U.S.-Mexico border north through Santa Barbara County and east to California's border with Arizona. (Sisson, 8/29)
The information contained patients’ full names, birth dates, telephone numbers and details about their scheduled appointments.
Los Angeles Times:
County-USC Patients' Personal Information Stolen In Car Break-In
Files containing personal information on more than 700 patients treated at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center were stolen when an employee's car was broken into, county health officials said Monday. The break-in occurred in July. The county Department of Health Services released a statement after trying to notify the affected patients by mail. The files stolen from the car contained appointment lists for people who were treated at the County-USC neurosurgery clinic between May 10 and July 26, according to the statement. (Sewell, 8/29)
In other news from across the state —
Orange County Register:
Encephalitis Is Newest Virus In Mosquito Arsenal In O.C.
For the first time in 30 years, Orange County mosquitoes have tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis, a disease that can be transmitted to humans, the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District announced Monday. The mosquitoes were trapped earlier this month in Garden Grove, said district spokesman Jared Dever. St. Louis encephalitis is related to West Nile virus, which so far this year has sickened five Orange County residents and been found in mosquito samples from 25 local cities. (Perkes, 8/29)
The generic version will cost $300, about half the price of the EpiPen-branded medication. But the company could actually end up making more money in the end.
The New York Times:
Mylan Tries Again To Quell Pricing Outrage By Offering Generic EpiPen
In its latest move to quell outrage over its price increases, the maker of the EpiPen has resorted to an unusual tactic — introducing a generic version of its own product. The company, Mylan, said on Monday that the generic EpiPen would be identical to the existing product, which is used to treat severe allergic reactions. But it will have a wholesale list price of $300 for a pack of two, half the price of the brand-name EpiPen. (Pollack, 8/29)
In other national health care news —
The Wall Street Journal:
Potential Zika Virus Therapies Identified By Researchers
Scientists have identified several potential therapies for the Zika virus from among 6,000 drugs already commercially available or undergoing clinical trials, according to a new study. The research, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, could help quicken discovery of medications for Zika and help prevent the neurological disorders associated with it, including microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads associated with improper brain development. (Hernandez, 8/29)
The Associated Press:
Last Chance? Obama Administration Proposes Health Law Fixes
In one of its last chances to tinker with the president's signature health care law, the Obama administration Monday proposed a series of fixes and adjustments for 2018, when the White House will have a new occupant. The changes are detailed in a highly technical draft regulation, nearly 300 pages long. Insurers and consumer advocates were trying to decipher its implications Monday evening. (8/29)
The Washington Post:
In Latest Policy Rollout, Clinton Puts Forward Agenda To Combat Mental Illness
Hillary Clinton put forward a package of initiatives Monday aimed at improving the plight of tens of millions of Americans coping with mental illness and pledged, if elected president, to hold a White House conference on the issue within her first year in office. The plan, the Democratic nominee said, seeks to fully integrate mental health services into the nation’s health-care system during her tenure as president. Measures include a national suicide prevention initiative, higher payments for providers in the Medicaid program, an emphasis on treatment over jail for low-level criminal offenders with mental health issues and the creation of new housing and job opportunities. (Wagner, 8/29)
Parkinson's Disease Study Caught In Feud Involving Fox Foundation
A crucial clinical trial of the most promising new treatment for Parkinson’s disease in decades might be delayed because of a feud between a key scientist and the influential Michael J. Fox Foundation. The prominent foundation — the richest nonprofit seeking to cure the crippling neurological disorder — initially wanted to collaborate on a study with the Georgetown University researcher. His preliminary findings last year had buoyed patients’ hopes for the first Parkinson’s medicine that might reverse some of their debilitating symptoms. The trial was supposed to begin in October, but Fox and the Georgetown team had a bitter falling out, and it’s unclear whether Georgetown will be able to obtain the medicine from its manufacturer so that the study can proceed. (Piller, 8/30)